Chances are, you may have heard about Marie Curie, but probably not Rosalind Franklin or Marie Maynard Daly. That's something the people behind the International Day of Women and Girls in Science hopes to change.
Growing up, we learn about Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein and all the other larger-than-life male scientists who made huge contributions to our quality of life (and thanks for the light bulb, it's dope).
But what about the ladies?! Though women were — and continue to be — largely kept out of scientific professions, they've still managed to break barriers and discover some awesome stuff.
Our girl, Marie Curie, was not only the first woman to be a professor of general physics but also won the Nobel Prize in 1911 for discovering radium and polonium. Franklin was the one who revealed the helical shape of the DNA molecule. And Daly discovered the connection between cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Where was that in our history books? Women have been impactful in all STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — but many textbooks still barely mention them.
To do our small part toward inspiring more girls to fully explore their interests in science, we gathered this collected of quotes from some of the most inspirational female scientists we could find. Enjoy!
Photo: CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Marie Curie, whose full name was Marie Salomea Skłodowska Curie, was a Polish and naturalized-French physicist and chemist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity. The work she did was demanding and fatal, but that didn't stop her from discovering polonium and radium. She never had a fancy laboratory for her work, yet gained success never the less. She was even labeled the 'mother of modern physics.'
Barbara McClintock was a scientist and cytogeneticist who was awarded the 1983 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. She discovered a chromosome-breaking locus that could change its position within a chromosome; it is now known as genetic transposition. She termed these “jumping genes”.
Franklin was a chemist, molecular biologist, and one of the key figures behind unlocking the structure of human DNA. She also helped find the molecular structure of RNA, viruses, coal, and graphite.
Mae Jemison is the first African American woman to travel into space where she conducted experiments on weightlessness and motion sickness. On top of that, Jemison is an engineer and physician.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
Marie Daly was the first African-American woman in the US to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry. Daly discovered the connection between cholesterol and high blood pressure, saving millions of lives with her research.
Dame Jane Morris Goodall DBE, formerly Baroness Jane van Lawick-Goodall, is an English primatologist and anthropologist, is known as the world's primary (see what we did there) expert on chimpanzees.
Stephanie Kwolek was a chemist who invented Kevlar. She discovered synthetic fibers that were so strong that steel bullets couldn't penetrate them. She is the winner of the Lavoisier Medal for technical achievements.
Rachel Carson was an American world-renowned marine biologist, author, and conservationist. Her book "Silent Spring" is credited with advancing the global environmental movement.
Elizabeth Blackburn evolved from a self-described “lab rat” to an avid explorer in the realms of health and public policy. She discovered the molecular structure of telomeres and co-discovered the enzyme telomerase, both of which are essential for cellular division and DNA replication. Her work won her the 2009 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine
Photo: Spatuletail / Shutterstock
Chien-Shiung Wu was a particle and experimental physicist; Wu worked on the Manhattan Project where she helped develop a process for separating uranium metal into U-235 and U-238 isotopes by gaseous diffusion.
Émilie du Châtelet, born Gabrielle Émilie Le Tonnelier de Breteuil, Marquise du Châtelet, was a French natural philosopher and mathematician from the early 1730s. Her best-known achievement is considered to be her translation and commentary on Isaac Newton's work "Principia Mathematica".
Maria Mitchell was an American astronomer. In 1847, she discovered a comet which was later known as “Miss Mitchell’s Comet”. She won a gold medal prize for her discovery presented by King Christian VIII of Denmark in 1848.
Gertrude "Trudy" Belle Elion was an American biochemist and pharmacologist. She discovered a series of drugs that attack the life cycle of nucleic acid. She shares her 1988 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with George H. Hitchings and Sir James Black.
May-Britt Moser is a Norwegian psychologist and neuroscientist. Moser discovered a type of cell that is important for determining position close to the hippocampus. She is currently a Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Elise Meitner also known as Lise Meitner, was a leading Austrian-Swedish physicist who was one of those responsible for the discovery of the element protactinium. She is also the reason we understand nuclear fission today. Albert Einstein nicknamed her the “German Marie Curie.”
Greenfield is a neurochemist researching brain diseases, particularly Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Grace Hopper was one of the earliest computer programmers in America! She served on the team that developed the UNIVAC I; she invented the first compiler. Her research also led to the development of COBOL which is one of the first high-level computer languages. Her programming standards for computer language design are still in use today!
Mary Leakey is a fossil hunter who discovered several of our early ancestors. She is best known for excavating an 86-foot long trail of human footprints dated at almost 4 million years ago. She proved our ancestors were already bipedal and had feet like ours.
Katherine Johnson was one of a group of Black women mathematicians at NASA whose important work went virtually unknown until they were the subjects of the 2016 Academy Award-nominated film, "Hidden Figures," in which Johnson was portrayed by Taraji P. Henson. She is said to have referred to herself and the women working with her as "computers who wore skirts."
Photo: Charles Rogers, CC BY-SA 2.5 / Wikimedia Commons
Lynn Conway is a computer scientist, electrical engineer, inventor, and transgender activist. She is credited with several pioneering computer systems.
Hedy Lamarr is credited with designing the very first computer program showing the world that computers can be much more than just calculators. She even did this in the 1940s, which was way before the tech boom.
Maryam Mirzakhani is an Iranian-born Stanford math professor who became the first female scientist to win the prestigious Fields Medal in 2014. The award was earned by her work with the geometry of surfaces that can predict and explain tectonic plate movement.
Katherine Johnson was an American mathematician. Her careful calculations of orbital mechanics as a NASA employee were critical to the success of the first and subsequent U.S. crewed spaceflights.
Danica McKellar isn't just an actress, she's a successful mathematician. During her senior year at the University of California, Los Angles, she proved a mathematical theorem to predict the temperature at which an iron bar magnet can be longer magnetized. The theorem was named the Chayes-McKellar-Winn Theorem.
One fun fact about Marie Curie is that her notebooks are stored in lead-lined boxes in France because they were contaminated with radium that they are radioactive and will continue to be so for many years. She literally took her work with her to the grave, her remains are even defined to be radioactive.
Emily Blackwood is a freelance writer who covers pop culture, true crime, dating, relationships, and everything in between.